Realizing the interconnectedness of Scripture throughout the Bible requires a level of research and resource that many Bible readers feel they’re lacking. The assumption is this level of in-depth biblical knowledge falls to the academy, pastor, or theologian. Award-winning author, Kristy Cambron (@KCambronAuthor), has set out to break the mold in a new verse mapping curriculum study series, released through Thomas Nelson (@ThomasNelson).
Verse mapping helps unpack the context of Scripture more simplistically to help readers have a deeper understanding of God’s Word. The first two studies in the series, Luke: Gathering the Goodness of God’s Word and Acts: Feasting on the Abundance of God’s Word will empower you to go beyond simply reading the Bible to researching and uncovering how to apply the Word in your everyday life. Cambron focuses on a 5-step process to improve your study time with God through verse mapping:
Verse: Select a verse to map
Design: Write your verse in several translations and identify key words or phrases
Develop: Look up key words and discover any underlying meanings
Actions: Research and document the people, places, and context referenced
Outcome: Write a one- to two-sentence summary of what you learned and anchor the verse to your life.
“We’re so excited to partner with Kristy Cambron on verse mapping,” says John Raymond, vice president and publisher of Trade Curriculum for HarperCollins Christian Publishing. “This creative new approach to Bible study will bring Scripture alive for so many people and it will help HarperCollins Christian Publishing (@HCChristianPub) accomplish our mission of meeting the needs of people by publishing resources that promote biblical principles.”
In both studies, Cambron provides step-by-step instructions on what readers need and how to get started in verse mapping. Designed for independent study, all sizes of groups, and all age-ranges, verse mapping is for people who want more depth when studying God’s Word. Consisting of six video sessions each, both Luke: Gathering the Goodness of God’s Word” and Acts: Feasting on the Abundance of God’s Word guide the reader through verse mapping a small section of Scripture. The accompanying Bible study guide includes diagrams for verse mapping, discussion questions, and group activity prompts.
“If you’re not a seminary-trained theologian by education, don’t worry—verse mapping is for anyone with a heart to know the Word of God more,” writes Cambron. “What matters is not how much knowledge you have before you begin, but where the journey takes you. The goal is to experience a deeper, more personal walk with Jesus, with the Bible as the field manual on your story road with Him.”
Verse Mappingis published by HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., the parent company of Bible Gateway.
Bio: Kristy Cambron is an award-winning author of Christian fiction, including her bestselling debut The Butterfly and the Violin, and an author of Bible studies, including the Verse Mapping series. She is a passionate storyteller who travels to speak at ministry events across the country, encouraging women to experience a deeper life in the Word through verse mapping. Her work has been named in Publishers Weekly Religion & Spirituality TOP 10, Library Journal Reviews’ Best Books, RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards, and received 2015 & 2017 INSPY Award nominations.
Kristy holds a degree in art history/research writing, and has 15 years of experience in education and leadership development for a Fortune-100 Corporation. She lives in Indiana with her husband and three sons and can probably be bribed with a coconut mocha latte and a good read. To stay connected, visit kristycambron.com.
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My beloved speaks and says to me:
“Arise, my love, my fair one,
and come away;
for now the winter is past,
the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth;
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove
is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth its figs,
and the vines are in blossom;
they give forth fragrance.
Arise, my love, my fair one,
and come away.”
“Set me as a seal upon your heart,
as a seal upon your arm;
for love is strong as death,
passion fierce as the grave.
Its flashes are flashes of fire,
a raging flame.
Many waters cannot quench love,
neither can floods drown it.
If one offered for love
all the wealth of one’s house,
it would be utterly scorned.”
He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
As a woman in today’s world, you know the pressure you feel on all sides to conform to society’s expectations. In her new book, Kind is the New Classy: The Power of Living Graciously (Zondervan, 2018), beloved actress and author Candace Cameron Bure (@candacecbure) reveals the thought patterns and practices that have empowered her to flourish with grace, integrity, and excellence, and that have helped her keep her cool under pressure, respond to criticism with grace, stay grounded yet go places in life, remain true to who she is despite the expectations of others, and hold fast to what ultimately matters the most.
Kind is the New Classyis published by HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., the parent company of Bible Gateway.
Bio: Candace Cameron Bure, actress, producer, New York Times bestselling author, beloved by millions worldwide from her role as D.J. Tanner on the iconic family sitcoms Full House and Fuller House, Hallmark Channel movies, former co-host of The View, inspirational speaker, and Dancing with the Stars Season 18 finalist, is both outspoken and passionate about her family and faith. Candace continues to flourish in the entertainment industry as a role model to women of all ages. She lives in the Los Angeles area with her husband and three children.
Increasingly, Western culture embraces confusion as a virtue and decries certainty as a sin. Those who are confused about sexuality and identity are viewed as heroes. Those who are confused about morality are progressive pioneers. Those who are confused about spirituality are praised as tolerant. Conversely, those who express certainty about any of these issues are seen as bigoted, oppressive, arrogant, or intolerant.
This cultural phenomenon led the compilers of the Oxford English Dictionary to name “post-truth” their word of the year in 2016. How can Christians offer truth and clarity to a world that shuns both?
What have you observed that prompted you to write this book?
Abdu Murray: A few things got me concerned about the way Western culture is viewing the very ideas of truth and clarity. As I speak on university campuses across North America, I’m seeing how the questions students ask have shifted away from factual issues, like evidence for the resurrection, to social and cultural questions that focus on human ability to define reality. Questions about sexual, gender, and religious identity seem to dominate. I’m seeing this in my one-on-one conversations, too. What’s emerging isn’t a quest to find out the facts that might give credibility to the gospel, but a quest to see if the Christian message can actually compete with a secular view that humanity is the determiner of right, wrong, and a better society. In other words, what I began to see was that people have taken to the idea that humanity can replace God.
The second thing I noticed is that confusion has now morphed into a virtue. Those who are confused sexually are labeled heroes. Those who see morality as a fuzzy category are considered progressive. And those who are confused about religious claims—saying that all paths are equally valid roads to God—are considered “tolerant.” But those who are clear on these matters are not treated so charitably. If someone is certain or clear on sexual boundaries, that person is a bigot. If a person is clear on the existence of objective moral values and boundaries, that person is regressive. And if someone clearly understands that different religious paths can’t possibly all lead to God, that person is considered intolerant. In other words, confusion has become a virtue and clarity has become a sin.
The results of this are becoming more and more evident. Truth is no longer the standard for our discussions. We’re beginning to lose our ability to reason. We’re beginning to lose our integrity. And as we elevate ourselves to godhood, we’re losing our sense of moral accountability and human value.
I wrote Saving Truth to diagnose how this has happened and how we can make clarity and truth attractive to culture once again.
How do you define truth?
Abdu Murray: Simply put, truth is that which conforms to reality. There are historical truths, moral truths, scientific truths, and spiritual truths. And all of them must be coherent and cohesive. In other words, if our worldview is true, what we learn from history and science ought to complement each other. Spiritual truths also ought to complement other areas of truth. But fundamentally, truth is objective. By that I mean that it doesn’t depend on human opinion. I believe it was Os Guinness who said that truth is true even if no one believes it and falsehood is false even if everyone believes it. The Christian faith is one based on the historical claims found in Scripture, particularly Jesus’s resurrection, and we see that history corroborates that fact. It’s also backed up by scientific discoveries about the universe’s beginning and its fine tuning for life. And the philosophy found in Scripture, which unfolds who we are, who God is, and what it means to be in relationship with him, is rich and robust.
What does “post-truth” mean and what are its two modes?
Abdu Murray:Oxford English Dictionaries designated “post-truth” as its 2016 Word of the Year. It’s actually not a new word, having been coined likely in 1992. But in 2016, it was used 2,000% more than in the previous years. According to Oxford Dictionaries, post-truth relates or denotes circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal beliefs. In other words, feelings and preferences matter more than facts and truth.
This is different and more problematic than postmodernism. Where a postmodern person might say, “There is no objective truth,” a post-truth person might think “there is objective truth, but I don’t care because my personal feelings and preferences matter more.” Anyone who brings facts that challenge those feelings or preferences is labeled as a “hater” or something similarly derogatory.
One mode of post-truth is the “hard mode.” By this I mean there are those whose personal preference to have their social or political agenda is so strong, they’re willing to twist the truth or even spread falsehood to get progress for their agenda. Usually, this can be addressed by bringing facts and logic into the discussion. But post-truth’s “soft mode” is actually more problematic. In that mode, people don’t so much lie about facts, as they simply ignore them or make their preferences matter more. In the soft mode, if someone brings facts that challenge another person’s feelings or preferences, the one who brought the facts is labeled as a “hater” or something worse. And so facts and logic won’t be persuasive at the outset because they’re ignored or shouted down as tools of the intolerant. In Saving Truth, I try to provide a roadmap for how to deal with this more difficult soft mode of post-truth.
Why is it important that truth exists and that it be acknowledged?
Abdu Murray: Logically, truth is inescapable. The moment someone makes a claim, they’re invoking the truth. If, for example, someone claims there’s no truth, one can simply challenge that by asking “Is it true that there’s no truth?” If it’s true, then truth does exist. If it isn’t true, then the claim is meaningless. We simply can’t live in a culture that denies objective truth or subordinates the truth to feelings and preferences.
If personal preferences and feelings are all that matter, then the world will be chaotic. We’d never go to a cancer specialist who denies that truth exists. We surely hope that the architects of our skyscrapers believe that physics and metallurgy contain truth. And we ought to care whether our politicians, our ministers, our friends, and even we ourselves acknowledge and love the truth.
Why do people work to avoid truth?
Abdu Murray: When truth is convenient for us, we become its champions. But when the truth costs us something, we try to avoid it and rationalize our way around it. It’s just a part of the human condition to avoid, and even reject, truth when it isn’t comfortable or convenient (2 Thess. 2:10-11). But truth-less comfort will not last.
C. S. Lewis put it well when he said that if we look for truth, we may find comfort. But if we look for comfort, we will get neither truth nor comfort—only soft soap to begin with but in the end, despair. I certainly can understand that. For most of my life, I wasn’t a Christian. I held to the Islamic worldview. Embracing the truths of the Christian faith would cost me some things in my life, not the least of which was my religious identity. It took me nine years to embrace the gospel—not because the answers were hard to find, but because the answers were hard to accept. Yet gloriously, in Christ we have one who’s both the truth (John 14:6) and the God of all comfort (2 Cor. 1:3) who helps us to embrace the truth, no matter the cost.
How has the church joined the culture of confusion?
Abdu Murray: There’s this oft-repeated principle within Christian circles: The church should be “in but not of” the outside culture. Sadly, I think that in our increasingly polarized society, the church has become both “in and of” the culture in some disappointing ways.
The culture of confusion is one that elevates feelings and preference over facts and truth. That’s how we get “fake news” and fuzzy moral standards. More Christians than I’d care to admit have joined and perpetuated this phenomenon by sharing stories across social media that either are outright untrue or are misleading. The goal here is to make “the other side”—particularly liberal non-Christians—look as bad as possible.
But there are also Christians who have the polar opposite approach. They don’t want to disagree with anyone, and so they actually compromise biblical standards to make non-Christians as comfortable as they can be. I think of the oft-misused words, “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matt. 7:1). Sadly, too many Christians use this passage to argue that Christians should not judge anyone’s behaviors or moral choices. Of course, they fail to cite the rest of the passage, in which Jesus clarifies that “when we judge” we’re to do so unhypocritically.
The church’s two opposing preferences—to vanquish our enemies on one hand and to be liked be everyone on the other—have led the church into confusion. The Bible calls us to be uncompromising on the truth, but to express the truth to non-Christians with love, compassion, and respect because we ourselves were among those who rejected the truth (Titus 3:1-7). We can rise above the post-truth culture of confusion by living in that tension.
What do you mean that “autonomy is confused for freedom”?
Abdu Murray: The seed for the post-truth mindset is the human desire for autonomy. We’ve confused autonomy with freedom, thinking they’re synonymous when they’re not.
Autonomy is the state of being a law unto one’s self (“autos” meaning self and “nomos” meaning law). Someone who’s autonomous is a law unto themselves and so he has no restraints whatsoever. An autonomous person can do or be whatever he wants, whenever he wants, however he wants. That ultimately leads to total chaos because if I’m a law unto myself and another person’s “law unto themselves” conflicts with my law, who will decide who’s right? It won’t be truth, it’ll be chaos (see Judges 17:6; 21:5: “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes”).
But true freedom is different. It requires boundaries; specifically the boundaries of truth and facts. As Chesterton pointed out, we don’t have the freedom to draw a giraffe with a short neck. Freedom entails limits. True freedom is not the unfettered ability to do, say, or be whatever we want in any way we want. True freedom is the ability to do what we want, in accordance with what we should, based on what we are. What we are is children of the Most High. That’s exactly why Jesus says that when we know the truth, the truth will set us free.
Abdu Murray: When Jesus said that “you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free,” he was perhaps saying one of the most profound things ever uttered in history. That’s not an exaggeration. In fact, there’s so much in just that phrase that one could write an entire book based on it (pun intended)!
Jesus linked truth with freedom. When we know the truth, we’re truly free. That’s the first coupling Jesus makes. But just a few verses later, he makes another astonishing coupling. He says, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). Jesus said in verse 32 that the truth would set us free and in verse 36 he says that the Son sets us free. Coupling them together we see that the Son is the truth.
In the person and work of Christ, we see the truth that we’re made in God’s image meant to commune with God, that we’ve forsaken that purpose, but that in the Son, God has provided a way to restore our purpose. That truth sets us free to be who and what we were meant to be.
What is a favorite Bible passage of yours and why?
Abdu Murray: There are so many, but I’d like to mention two. First, when I was exploring whether the gospel is true, I found so much beauty and truth in Romans 5:8. As a Muslim, I believed that God is the greatest possible being (which is why Muslims often say “Allahu Akbar,” which means “God is Greater”). It occurred to me that if God is the greatest possible being, he would express the greatest possible ethic (which is love) in the greatest possible way (which is self-sacrifice). That in Romans 5:8, we read exactly that: “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” There it is: the Greatest Possible Being expressing the greatest possible ethic in the greatest possible way.
And then there’s Colossians 4:5-6, where the apostle Paul beautifully describes how we’re to communicate the beauty and truth of the gospel. He tells us to walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. In other words, find out what other people care about, what their real questions are.
Often, Christians are answering questions people aren’t asking. They’re answering questions they wish people would ask. But when we listen carefully we can find boulevards for the gospel and address the person’s actual concerns in intelligent and emotionally impactful ways. We don’t ignore people’s preferences and feelings. We try to show how the truth is what should influence and perhaps change those preferences and feelings.
Apologetics (1 Pet. 3:15) is the art and science of Christian persuasion. But when we answer questions no one asked or give them a fire hose of our opinions, we transform it into the art of making someone sorry they asked! Paul closes his thought with this: “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person” (Col. 4:6). That final word is important. Christians are not to answer questions. We aren’t to answer controversies or even objections. We’re to answer people, because questions don’t need answers, but people do.
We need to show others that we understand where they’re coming from, especially when we don’t agree with them. Then, by asking questions of our own, we can get others to see that God’s word is not about arbitrary restrictions on freedom, but is the source of true freedom. When we see another person not as a debate opponent but someone for whom Christ died to save, we can more compassionately convey the gospel message in a way that speaks directly to that person and their struggles without compromising the unchanging truths of Scripture.
What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App?
Abdu Murray: Both the website and the Bible Gateway App are so valuable. What I love about them both, especially the App, is that we can have the Word of God at our fingertips, searchable and with study helps and resources. How often have we engaged in spiritually important conversations, only to find our Bible or commentaries aren’t readily at hand to help us express the gospel clearly? The website and the App directly address such situations by giving us access to the truth that sets us free.
Saving Truthis published by HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., the parent company of Bible Gateway.
Bio: Abdu Murray is North American Director with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and is the author of Saving Truth: Finding Meaning & Clarity in a Post-Truth World, Grand Central Question: Answering the Critical Concerns of the Major Worldviews, and Apocalypse Later. For most of his life, Abdu was a proud Muslim who studied the Qur’an and Islam. After a nine-year investigation into the historical, philosophical, and scientific underpinnings of the major world religions and views, Abdu discovered that the historic Christian faith can answer the questions of the mind and the longings of the heart. Abdu has spoken to diverse international audiences and has participated in debates and dialogues across the globe. He has appeared as a guest on numerous radio and television programs all over the world. Abdu holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Michigan and earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School. As an attorney, Abdu was named several times in Best Lawyers in America and Michigan Super Lawyer. Abdu is the Scholar in Residence of Christian Thought and Apologetics at the Josh McDowell Institute of Oklahoma Wesleyan University.
Bible Engaged (17% of the population) On average, Bible Engaged adults are 4 years younger than those who are Centered, at 47 years old. Like Bible Centered adults, Engaged
are more likely to be married
attend a Protestant church
are weekly church attenders
and reside in the South.
More women than men are in the Engaged category. Three in 10 Engaged adults (30%) use the Bible every day, and another 59% read it at least weekly.
Bible Friendly (15% of adults) Adults in this category average 44 years of age. Men are just as likely as women to be in this group, and they’re just as likely to be married as they are single. Half are non-practicing Christians, that is, they call themselves Christian but either don’t attend church at least once a month or don’t consider their faith very important. They’re just as likely to attend a Catholic church as they are a Protestant church. Just under half (47%) attend church weekly. While only 8% use the Bible every day, just under half use it once a week (47%), compared to 21% who use it monthly, and 24% who use it at least once a year.
Bible Neutral (5% of adults) interact with the Bible sporadically. More than half (55%) use the Bible at least three or four times a year, 23% use it once a month, and the remaining 21% use it at least one a week or more. They’re younger than other engagement segments, with an average age of 38 and more likely to be men than women. Two-thirds are not practicing Christians, and another one in six (16%) are non-Christians or aren’t affiliated with any faith group. While 42% attend church weekly, more than one-third are unchurched (38%).
Bible Disengaged (54% of the adult population): The largest segment of the population is defined as Bible Disengaged. Those in the Bible Disengaged category don’t necessarily have hostile or negative feelings toward the Bible, but may simply be indifferent. A majority of the Bible Disengaged don’t interact with the Bible at all. 91% use the Bible on their own once or twice a year or less. The Disengaged are primarily classified by their infrequent interaction with the Bible and its minimal impact on their lives.
The average age is on par with Bible Engaged adults at 46. Bible Disengaged are more likely to be
without children under 18 at home
and reside in the suburbs.
They’re roughly split between non-practicing Christians (46%) and non-Christians (48%); few are practicing Christians (6%). They’re largely unchurched (73%), and a small 10% report using the Bible at least three to four times a year. Three in five (60%) say they never engage with the Bible on their own, while 22% use it less than once a year.
For those who aren’t familiar with it, briefly explain the story of the exodus in the Bible.
Alastair J. Roberts: The story of the exodus, found in the second book of the Bible, is the account of God’s deliverance of the children of Israel from the land of Egypt, where they were oppressed by Pharaoh. Through the work of his servant Moses, God brought plagues upon Egypt and delivered Israel through the parted Red Sea, while drowning their pursuers. God brought Israel to Mount Sinai, where he formed a marriage-like bond with them with the giving of the Law and the establishment of his dwelling in their midst in the tabernacle. Due to Israel’s rebellion and unbelief, they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years, before they were led into the Promised Land of Canaan by Joshua, where they gained possession of the land through divinely empowered military conquest over the inhabitants of the land, who had been set apart for judgment for their wickedness.
What patterns do you see in the order of the 10 plagues?
Alastair J. Roberts: The corruption of the body of Egypt began in the Nile, where the baby boys of the Israelites had been drowned. This spread to the land through the frogs which came forth from the Nile. The dust of the land was then turned to lice. The plague of insects was then given wings in a plague of swarms, rendering the whole land unclean. The land animals then become diseased. Then human beings also broke out in boils. The plagues rose further as the hail came from the sky to strike the seasonal crops and the east wind brought locusts to consume what was left. Then the lights of the heavens themselves were turned out over Egypt. Finally, in the climactic judgment, the lives of the firstborn were extinguished. The judgment God brings moves from the waters beneath to the heavens above. It’s a process of de-creation, dismantling the world of Egypt from its roots to its rafters.
While the world of Egypt is dismantled, the book of Exodus also contains a narrative of new creation. The establishment of the tabernacle at the end of the book of Exodus is a symbolic new creation, as God instructs Israel in the forming and filling of a new realm.
Why have your formatted your book around a musical metaphor?
Alastair J. Roberts: It can be difficult for modern persons to understand the possibility of a deep unity of events, persons, and realities across time, as we often think of time merely as a sequence of events in succession. However, in music we can hear ways in which times can be powerfully connected, even at a distance. Recurring rhythms and motifs relate different passages of a piece of music together. Likewise, the recurring theme of exodus is one that unites realities together across time, revealing a deeper connection between them. Our bodies have a natural tendency to move with music and, in a similar manner, the ‘music’ of God’s great themes of redemption continue to move the church in the present. Events such as the exodus aren’t merely consigned to the distant past, but express the motifs that characterize God’s action in the here and now.
How does the exodus theme unify Scripture?
Alastair J. Roberts: By revealing that Scripture isn’t merely an assemblage of detached stories in loosely historical order, but the development of a majestic theme over millennia; a theme that reaches its climax in the work of Jesus Christ. The exodus theme reveals the ways in which, across the history narrated by Scripture, God is orchestrating the outworking of his great purpose, intimating themes that anticipate later fulfillment, and bringing beauty, harmony, and order to light within the disjointed and discordant realm of human history.
How does Jesus fulfill the story of Joshua?
Alastair J. Roberts: Jesus—whose name is a variant of the name of Joshua—fulfils the story of Joshua as he pioneers a way into the Promised Land of the new creation, giving his people rest.
How does the Last Supper fit in to the exodus theme?
Alastair J. Roberts: The Last Supper was a Passover meal, a celebration in which the event of the exodus was memorialized (Luke 22:7-23; compare Exodus 12:1-28). Jesus institutes his own memorial at this meal, taking an existing celebration powerfully charged with memory and anticipation and relating it to what he was about to accomplish.
Bringing his coming death and resurrection into close correspondence both with the events of the original exodus and with the intense expectations of future deliverance associated with the Passover celebration, Jesus provided his followers with a framework in which to understand what he was doing. He’s the sacrificed Passover Lamb, the sun is darkened over his cross, he becomes the slain firstborn Son for his enemies, he’s the one who tears open a path through the deep waters of death, so that we might pass through unharmed. The connection to the original exodus highlighted by the Last Supper alerts us to the significance of Christ’s fulfillment of all of these themes.
What do you mean that the Bible places more emphasis on the freedom for and less on from?
Alastair J. Roberts: Most of the biblical account of Exodus is concerned, not with the initial deliverance from the tyranny of Pharaoh, but with God’s self-revelation and forging of a new covenant bond with his people. The children of Israel are set free from Pharaoh in order that they might serve God and be brought into faithful fellowship with him. In the contemporary West, we often think of freedom principally as the removal of restraints upon us. However, as the Apostle Paul warned the Corinthians, such liberty can take liberties with us (1 Corinthians 6:12). Set free from bondage to external powers, we can readily forge new chains of our own, manacled by our own vices and sinful habits.
God sets before a freedom that is greater than this, the positive freedom of being established in truthful ways of life, in restored fellowship with him and our neighbours. The Law was given as an expression of what such a way of life would look like, but, as sons and daughters of fallen Adam, the Israelites rebelled against it. The Law held out a vision of freedom in fellowship to Israel, but couldn’t bring them into enjoyment of it. Christ gives us his Spirit so that the condemnation of the Law upon rebellion might be dealt with in his death and so that what the Law couldn’t do on account of our sinful nature could be achieved by the inner working of his Spirit (Romans 8:3-4).
What are some similarities between the story of 1 Samuel 1-2 and the opening chapters of Luke and Acts?
Alastair J. Roberts: At the beginning of Luke, as at the beginning of 1 Samuel, we see a woman whose womb is opened by the Lord. As in the book of Exodus, the great stories of the establishment of the kingdom of Israel and the establishment of the kingdom of heaven begin with women at the foreground of the narrative frame. We see prayer at the temple (Luke 1:10; compare 1 Samuel 1:8-18) and a priest who lacks spiritual perception, associated with dulled physical faculties (Luke 1:20; compare 1 Samuel 1:12-14, 3:3). We see the gift of a Nazirite son (Luke 1:15; compare 1 Samuel 1:11). We see a powerful declaration of praise by the woman whose womb had been opened (Luke 1:46-55; compare 1 Samuel 2:1-10), followed by descriptions of their children’s growth (Luke 1:80; 2:40, 52; compare 1 Samuel 2:21; 3:19) and of portentous events in their early childhood (Luke 2:41-52; compare 1 Samuel 3:1-18). Early in Luke’s narrative, we also see a woman named Anna (Hannah), who is constantly in prayer in the temple (2:36-38). Acts also begins with prayer in the temple (1:14; compare Luke 24:53). The tongues-speaking of the Christians at Pentecost is mistaken for drunken speech (Acts 2:13), much as Hannah’s prayer is in 1 Samuel 1:12-14.
As God is establishing a new kingdom in the Gospels, it should not surprise us that it involves the appearance of themes that remind us of the establishment of the original kingdom of Israel.
How is the life of Jesus an exodus, “hidden in plain sight”?
Alastair J. Roberts: There are themes of exodus found in numerous episodes in Jesus’ life. Christ, like Moses, is the future deliverer who is rescued from the wicked king seeking to kill the baby boys (Matthew 2:16-18). Like Israel, Christ is brought up out of Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15). Christ passes through the waters of baptism in the Jordan and is led up by the Spirit into the wilderness for a period of 40 days of testing (Matthew 3:13—4:11), much as Israel passed through the Red Sea and was led by the pillar of fire and cloud into the wilderness, where they spent 40 years being tested. Christ is the one who speaks about the Law from a mountain (Matthew 5:1).
The Gospel writers want us to notice the connection between the exodus and what Christ is doing and will often tell their stories in ways that foreground parallels. For instance, in chapter 6 of his Gospel, John tells us of Jesus crossing a sea, followed by a great multitude, which he takes to a mountain, where he miraculously feeds them with bread that he later relates to the manna.
However, all these little parallels merely point toward the far greater exodus that Christ is accomplishing—the Greek term for exodus is employed in Luke 9:31—through his death and resurrection. Christ defeats the Pharaoh Satan. He’s the firstborn Son brought forth from the opened grave. He’s the one who establishes a new covenant and a new tabernacling of God with his people. He’s the one who ascends to God’s presence, as Moses did on Sinai, and gives the Spirit, who fulfills what the Law could not.
What is a favorite Bible passage of yours and why?
Alastair J. Roberts: The Psalms have always been very important to me. My mother helped me and my brothers to memorize several psalms as very young children. I often find myself returning to these in my mind, their words running like deeply cut grooves of grace in my consciousness, along which streams of divine encouragement can flow. Psalm 1 and Psalm 23 are especially valuable to me.
What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App?
Alastair J. Roberts: I rarely use Bible apps on my phone, but I have been using Bible Gateway for the better part of two decades. As someone who does a lot of theological writing online, Bible Gateway is generally a more convenient and readily accessible text to use than my physical copy of the Bible, especially as its search features and easily navigable format make locating texts very straightforward.
I have thought a lot about the importance of attending to the formats in which we engage Scripture. While digital Bible formats like Bible Gateway should not replace our primary engagement with Scripture in the form of the spoken word in the gathered assembly of the people of God, they are invaluable resources for personal study and online reference, making certain forms of engagement with Scripture far more possible for the typical individual than ever would have been the case previously (for example, allowing for the ready comparison of different versions). By performing these purposes especially well, as J. Mark Bertrand has observed, they are also freeing up our printed Bibles to be less like textual Swiss Army knives and more specialized in their uses, making possible the rise of readers’ Bibles, for instance.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Alastair J. Roberts: Andrew and I are hoping that our little book will encourage Christians of many different levels of understanding to read their Bibles in a deeper way. We want people, having read Echoes of Exodus, to return to the scriptural narratives and see what riches they can find. We wrote the book with Bible study groups and actively engaged readers of Scripture in mind. Each chapter of the book is short, with review and thought questions following, all intended to get people reading the text more closely for themselves.
We only scratched the surface of the theme of exodus in this book (I wrote over 150,000 words of notes in preparation for the book, and the book is only 40,000 words in length). There’s so much more for people to discover for themselves!
Bio: Alastair J. Roberts (PhD, Durham University) is one of the participants in the Mere Fidelity podcast and a fellow of Scripture and theology with the Greystone Theological Institute.
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When you hear that your child has a disability, your heart and hope may be broken, and your faith may be struggling to reconcile how God can be good even though your situation is devastating. Parents ask, “Will my child still have a full life?” “Can I do this?” “Where is God in all this?”
Diane Dokko Kim:Unbroken Faith is a book I never intended to write. In 2004, my husband and I returned from missions, and committed to full-time ministry. We looked forward to fruitfulness, blessings, and favor from God. They came in the unexpected packaging of our 18-month old being diagnosed with autism.
Stunned and feeling trapped by our spiritual résumé, I poured my grief into a password-protected document, a journal that grew into my own book of Psalms: How could God let this happen to us? Was he going to fix this? Does he care? How could I trust him again?
After five years of wrestling with God, he brought healing: perhaps not in my son’s cognitive disability, but in my own spiritual disability. What the enemy intended for harm, God used to draw me into a deeper understanding to his heart, and prove the transformative power of his Word, now exquisitely relevant to the modern-day realities of special-needs parenting. Having redeemed the pain that wrecked me, he re-purposed it into a passion to comfort others with the comfort I received from Christ.
Why is this book needed?
Diane Dokko Kim:Unbroken Faith is the book I wish had existed for that critical season of struggle. Our child had been diagnosed with disability. But I had been crippled, too. Suddenly, we were thrust into a 40-hour week of intensive therapy and various interventions. But no therapists came for me.
Like most special-needs parents, I Googled desperately for solutions. I found a wealth of resources for my son’s disability and practical needs. But precious few Christian resources existed that addressed the hidden impairments of a grieving and disillusioned parent.
The book also seeks to serve as a translator or “tour guide” for those outside the world of disability. Families affected by disability can be complex, delicate, and challenging to understand. We often don’t have the bandwidth to explain our needs or situations, leaving friends and extended family mystified and apprehensive on how to help.
Unbroken Faith seeks to educate “first responders,” (for example, extended family, friends, and church community) on our unseen wounds: the spiritual and practical needs faced by families living with disability. It preemptively seeks to answer, “What can we do to help?” by empowering the supporting community with understanding, and enable them to respond with compassion and meaningful support. With 20% of the US population affected by disability, everyone is statistically certain to know someone.
What are specific hurdles that Christian special needs parents face?
Diane Dokko Kim: Christian parents struggle to reconcile faith in a good God with devastating loss and grief. There is a pervasive misconception in the church: that faith and grief are mutually exclusive. We feel as if we can’t be honest about our conflicted emotions, and feel obligated to put on a mask, lest we look unspiritual or unfaithful. But an all-knowing and all-loving God already knows how we feel, and extends compassion for our sufferings.
There’s also significant blame, guilt, and shame associated with disability. This is reflected in John 9:2, when the disciples ask, “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Some parents have even been directly questioned if they harbor secret sin or did something wrong to cause their child’s condition—as if disability was a cosmic retribution. But there’s no karma or condemnation in Christ. Jesus squarely overturned this false notion when he answered, “Neither this man sinned…but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
Scripture is heavily incorporated throughout the book. Share a few passages that you’ve found particularly relevant or comforting on your journey with disability.
Diane Dokko Kim: In Genesis 1, the first and most perfect parent in the universe did everything right to guarantee the health and success of his firstborn children. What more could he have done? But only a few chapters in, by the account of Noah, those beloved children didn’t turn out as he expected, and his heart was filled with pain.
At the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus experienced oppression by a burden no one could understand. He cried out desperate prayers that appeared to be meet with silence. His closest friends failed to understand or support him in his deepest pain and sorrow.
And on the cross, Jesus cried out the same words I’ve screamed at the skies in my moments of utter frustration and despair, “My God! Why have you forsaken me?”
Special-needs parenting can feel like an isolated and lonely journey. But God understands every heartache and sorrow common to man, even the uncommon stresses of parenting children with disabilities. He is able to sympathize with our weaknesses, and gives us grace to help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:15-16)
You emphasize the importance of parents taking the time to grieve the dreams and plans they had for their child prior to a special needs diagnosis. Why is this process important?
Diane Dokko Kim: We grieve the loss of our idealized child; and our grief matters to God. The book of Psalms is our precedent, where God is magnanimous in devoting significant real estate to honor and validate human angst and doubt. He gives us permission to grieve, doubt, and ask hard questions. For true healing and restoration of our faith to occur, we must first authentically acknowledge and process our grief.
God desires truth in our innermost being. He knows that if we short-change this process, we cannot fully heal. Unresolved bitterness and resentment will leak sideways, impairing our relationship with God, and poisoning our relationships with those closest to us. If we can’t heal and surrender our dashed expectations, our hearts will be closed to the new, unexpected blessings God desires to reveal in and through our children.
What words of hope do you give to parents that have just been given a disability diagnosis for their child and are entering into that grief?
Diane Dokko Kim: Give yourself permission and time to grieve the loss of unmet expectations. God understands and grieves with us. He, too, had paradise and perfection in mind for his children. He has a plan to redeem and re-purpose our perceived losses. Find safe people and places to be real with and to lean on. But ultimately, our hearts must heave heavenward. Only he can fully understand carrying a burden no one can understand, and provide divine hope for the journey.
What do you want your readers to take away from Unbroken Faith?
Diane Dokko Kim: My greatest wish is for readers to experience the power, timelessness, and relevance of the Bible, applied to even the most messy life circumstances. The Word of God is truly living and active (Heb. 4:12), and has everything to do with the gritty realities of special needs parenting. My hope is for readers to discover the same relevance in their own unique contexts. My prayer is for them to discover the God of compassion, who suffers with us and for us; who rescues us from despair, redeems our disasters, and re-purposes them into unimaginable blessings. Our God is a redeeming God—the only kind he knows how to be.
What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway?
Diane Dokko Kim: I’d like to thank Bible Gateway for being a tremendous ministry partner! My objective has been to offer personal, modern-day life experiences that illustrate the timeless relevance of the Bible. Everything I’ve written on my blog is intentionally infused with Scripture, hyperlinked from Bible Gateway. An effective tool to undergird my work with biblical richness, Bible Gateway has been my go-to resource.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Diane Dokko Kim: Not everyone is affected by disability. But everyone gets “crippled” by something. No one is exempt from the jagged edges of a broken planet. At some point, all believers must contend with, “How could God let this happen? Is He going to fix this? If not, how will I get through it? How will I trust God again?”
Unbroken Faith is not just for special-needs parents. It’s for anyone “crippled” by anything. Whether it’s a diagnosis, disorder, divorce, death—or the death of a dream—everyone has to reconcile our faith with disappointment. The greatest gifts can come wrapped in suffering. Brokenness may steal, kill, and destroy indiscriminately. But God is an equal opportunity healer and Redeemer. No matter what our spiritual diagnosis, we can all have the same solution. His name is Jesus.
Bio: A San Francisco Bay Area native, Diane has been serving for over 25 years in bi-vocational church leadership, serving the disabled community. Diane’s first son was diagnosed with autism and ADHD/ADD in 2004, at age two which triggered profound personal, professional, and spiritual crises. In 2008, she began serving as a special needs ministry consultant and in 2012 launched an online ministry to reach out to special needs families. Diane and her husband, Eddie, live in the heart of Silicon Valley with their two young sons, Jeremy and Justin.
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The love the Spirit gives to us should be directed toward other individuals. Furthermore, as we use our spiritual gifts to build up the church, we should exercise self-control, using our abilities only at the appropriate times. (NKJV Study Bible) --Sign up here: bit.ly/2HKU5gV for Bible Gateway Plus to get access to more Study Bible Notes! ...